SPORTS DESK : 1 OCTOBER, 2023, 11:41 PM
Monaco went top of Ligue 1 with a 3-2 win over Gennaro Gattuso’s Marseille on Saturday after Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 0-0 draw by struggling Clermont.
Marseille were playing their first game since former Italy star Gattuso was appointed coach and twice led in the principality through goals by Iliman Ndiaye and Samuel Gigot.
Ndiaye opened the scoring after just 32 seconds and Gigot volleyed them back in front on 18 minutes after Maghnes Akliouche equalised.
However, Monaco’s USA striker Folarin Balogun — who had two penalties saved in last week’s defeat by Nice — made it 2-2 midway through the first half, completing a remarkable opening to the game at the Stade Louis II.
Balogun then set up Akliouche to make it 3-2 seven minutes after the restart and the youngster’s second goal of the night proved to be the winner.
Monaco end the night a point clear at the top of the table from surprise package Brest, who visit fourth-placed Nice on Sunday — whoever wins that contest will seize first place.
Meanwhile, Marseille have now gone three games without a win, and conceded 10 goals, since previous coach Marcelino Garcia Toral resigned.
Gattuso will hope for his first victory when OM entertain Brighton and Hove Albion in the Europa League on Thursday.
“We must improve but I was pleased with the spirit of the team and the way they kept trying until the end,” Gattuso said.
“The only way we can turn this around is by working hard. I don’t know if three days before playing Brighton will be enough. The football I want to play is not easy, it needs time. But I think this team can do well.”
– Mbappe shakes off injury –
PSG were warming up for a Champions League trip to Newcastle United as they went to Clermont, where Kylian Mbappe started having recovered from the ankle injury which forced him off in the first half of last week’s 4-0 win over Marseille.
The reigning champions had been hoping to build on impressive wins against Borussia Dortmund and Marseille in their last two outings, but a goalless stalemate with a struggling Clermont side confirms they are far from the finished article under new coach Luis Enrique.
“We tried to create and to win the match but it was almost impossible to kick the ball in the right way because it was always bouncing, especially for the strikers when they tried to score,” Luis Enrique told broadcaster Amazon Prime, with reference to a newly-laid pitch at Clermont’s Stade Gabriel-Montpied.
“I knew the pitch was new, they changed it three days ago, but we were unlucky to have to play on it in these conditions.”
PSG have won just three of their first seven league games and sit provisionally third in the table, two points behind Monaco.
Clermont had beaten the Parisians away in their final game of last season but came into this match bottom and with just one point so far in this campaign.
They are still winless, but the unexpected point lifts them off the foot of the table on goal difference from Lyon, who play on Sunday.
Goalkeeper Mory Diaw, who was on PSG’s books as a youngster, was Clermont’s hero as he made a total of 10 saves, while Mbappe hit the outside of a post in the second half and was booked for diving late on.
Visiting goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma also starred when he produced a brilliant save on his line just after half-time to deny Jamaican striker Shamar Nicholson before seeing Yohann Magnin hit the post from the follow-up.
On Friday, Lens won 1-0 away at Strasbourg thanks to an Elye Wahi goal as they warmed up for Tuesday’s home Champions League meeting with Arsenal. -BSS
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